Thursday, November 30, 2023

Innocence Project: 2023 annual report: (Part 1): The report demonstrates how this incredibly effective organization has once again empowered science to correct decades-old injustices for six clients: John Gavin; Darrill Henry; Herman Williams; Ian Schweizer; Norberto Peets; and Tyrone day - while continuing to fight battle involving forensic issues one behalf of Rodey Reed, Sanndra Hemme and The West Memphis Three.

POST: A section of the recently released report, headed 'Restoring Freedom: Supported by co-counsel. advocates and donors, we harnessed the power of science to correct decades-old injustices for six clients,' can be read at the link below.

GIST: (The six clients): John Galvan spent more than three decades in prison after he, and several others, was wrongly convicted of a 1986 apartment fire in Chicago that killed two brothers. Mr. Galvan’s conviction was based on eyewitness misidentification, faulty arson science, and a false confession. Appeals by the Innocence Project, The Exoneration Project, and the Cook County Public Defender revealed new evidence, including developments in arson science, that led to his exoneration. Mr. Galvan now enjoys a life of independence, including purchasing his own car. He was represented by the Innocence Project.


Darrill Henry was raising an 8-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son when he was arrested for a double murder in New Orleans. Tried for capital murder based exclusively on eyewitness misidentification, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. The judge who presided over his original trial vacated his conviction in 2020 based on DNA evidence that excluded Mr. Henry, and, in 2023, the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office dropped all charges. Mr. Henry has been spending time with his children, who are now in their 20s. He was represented by the Innocence Project; the Orleans Parish Public Defenders Office; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; and the Law Office of Letty S. Di Giulio.

Herman Williams, a decorated member of the U.S. Navy, was wrongly convicted of the 1993 murder of his ex-wife in Waukegan, Illinois, based largely on scientifically unsupported forensic pathology testimony, an inadequate defense, a fabricated confession, and police and prosecutorial misconduct. Advanced DNA testing excluded Mr. Williams as the attacker. Now free, he operates a handyman business. Mr. Williams was represented by the Innocence Project and the Illinois Innocence Project.

In February 2000, Ian Schweitzer was wrongly convicted of a 1991 rape and murder based on unreliable jailhouse informant testimony — despite DNA results excluding him from the rape kit. Post-conviction DNA testing on additional items from the rape kit and a shirt found at the crime scene further confirmed his innocence, along with newly discovered evidence showing the State used unreliable bitemark evidence in its investigation, and newly presented tire tread evidence. After reuniting with his family, Mr. Schweitzer moved into his own apartment and participated in multiple fishing competitions. He was represented by the Innocence Project and the Hawaii Innocence Project.

Norberto Peets was wrongly convicted of a 1996 shooting in New York after a police officer identified him as the gunman. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was exonerated after strong evidence of an alternate suspect, medical reinvestigation, and post-conviction DNA testing confirmed his innocence. Since his release, Mr. Peets has moved into his own home and reconnected with his daughter and son, who were young children at the time of his wrongful conviction. He was represented by the Innocence Project.

Tyrone Day was just 19 years old when he was arrested for a 1990 sexual assault in Dallas based on eyewitness misidentification. Though he firmly maintained his innocence, he pleaded guilty after his attorney erroneously advised him that a plea deal would enable him to be released on parole after four years in prison. DNA testing later excluded Mr. Day as the attacker. Today, Mr. Day is a system manager and lead horticulturist at Restorative Farms, which he helped found. He was represented by the Innocence Project, the Innocence Project of Texas, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP.


"In  addition  to the six exonerations, we scored a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court that moves us closer to our goal  of securing DNA testing for Rodney Reed. Furthermore, we move a habeas petition arguing that Sandra Hemme  should be granted a new trial and filed an amicus brief on Behalf of the West Memphis Three to help prove their innocence.


The link:



PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue/resource. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;


FINAL WORD: (Applicable to all of our wrongful conviction cases): "Whenever there is a wrongful conviction, it exposes errors in our criminal legal system, and we hope that this case — and lessons from it — can prevent future injustices.

Lawyer Radha Natarajan;

Executive Director: New England Innocence Project;


FINAL, FINAL WORD: "Since its inception, the Innocence Project has pushed the criminal legal system to confront and correct the laws and policies that cause and contribute to wrongful convictions. They never shied away from the hard cases — the ones involving eyewitness identifications, confessions, and bite marks. Instead, in the course of presenting scientific evidence of innocence, they've exposed the unreliability of evidence that was, for centuries, deemed untouchable." So true!

Christina Swarns: Executive Director: The Innocence Project;



David Hammond, one of Broadwater’s attorneys who sought his exoneration, told the Syracuse Post-Standard, “Sprinkle some junk science onto a faulty identification, and it’s the perfect recipe for a wrongful conviction.\